China imposed the ban ostensibly as a response to Japan’s release of treated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea. The plant is still undergoing the decommissioning process. Japanese say that the water is completely safe to drink. The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog has vouched for the safety of the water, with countries belonging to the G7 urging that any bans on Japanese seafood be withdrawn.
Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, says that the ban from China is just part of the latter’s “economic wars,” at the same time urging Washington to look for ways to better offset the impact of such moves from the Asian superpower.
Emanuel said that the U.S. needs to “wear out China’s economic coercion” and provide help and assistance to China’s “targeted country or industry.”
The seafood purchase contract with Japan is a long-term one, which will primarily feed U.S. troops stationed in the country. The seafood will be used in meals served on U.S. vessels and installations, and will also be sold in nearby shops and restaurants. The U.S. has not purchased any seafood from Japan prior to the deal.
China has defended its ban on Japanese seafood, saying that it “firmly opposes and strongly condemns” Japan’s release of water from the Fukushima plant into the sea. It said that ban was a “precautionary measure” and was “entirely legitimate, reasonable and necessary” to protect the food safety of its citizens, according to Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry.
Wenbin also criticized Emanuel, saying that instead of following the “duty of diplomats” to “deepen friendship,” the U.S. ambassador to Japan is “smearing other countries and sowing discords (sic).”
The Fukushima nuclear power plant was permanently damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which broke the plant’s cooling system. This in turn caused a meltdown of three nuclear reactors, as well as the contamination of the plant’s cooling water.
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